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August 23, 1991 - Image 6

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-08-23

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The Kremlin Crunch

The stunning news of the coup in the
Soviet Union was particularly disturbing to
a Jewish community that has worked
tirelessly for the emigration of Soviet Jews
and peace between Israel and its Arab
Whatever his motives, Mikhail Gor-
bachev has brought major reforms to Soviet
society, leading toward increased democracy
and the right of Soviet Jews to emigrate. He
also has worked with the United States in
recent weeks toward the co-sponsorship of a
Mideast peace conference in which the par-
ties would meet face to face. Diplomatic rela-
tions between Israel and the USSR, severed
in 1967, were about to be restored.
Now, a cloud of doubt hovers over the
Kremlin, though at press time it appeared
that the coup had collapsed. There is even
speculation that reform and democracy will
move ahead more rapidly.
Indeed, for the first time in Soviet

Dry Bones

history, it appeared that the will of the
Soviet people had prevailed over those who
would oppress them. Still, there are far more
questions than answers at this point. Who
will lead the Soviet Union: Boris Yeltsin,
who has emerged as the hero of democratic
reform in standing up to those who plotted
the coup? Mr. Gorbachev, as before? Or some
new form of leadership? Regardless, the
lesson for American Jews is that the Soviet
Union is unstable and that we must never
relax in our efforts to rescue Soviet Jewry.
Attempts to restore Jewish life in the USSR,
no matter how well intentioned, should not
be given priority over the primary goal:
evacuation of as many Soviet Jews as
Amidst the turmoil, we must remain focus-
ed in our support of the rights of Soviet Jews
to emigrate, and to do whatever we can to
speed up that process. We may not have
another chance.

A* mip.ast


Under Gorbachev,
The Gates Opened

During the past six years since Mikhail
Gorbachev assumed leadership of the USSR,
399,621 Jews emigrated from the Soviet
Union. This was 61 percent of the Jews who
left the country since the contemporary
movement to allow Jews to emigrate began
in 1968, according to the National Con-
ference of Soviet Jewry.
In the year before Mr. Gorbachev became
general secretary of the Communist Party
in March, 1985, only 896 Jews emigrated. By
1988, this had crept to 18,965. In 1989,
71,217 left.
An all-time record for Soviet Jewish
emigration was set last year when 186,815

boarded planes bound toward the west.
"The emigration doors that have open-
ed since 1989 were clearly because of Gor-
bachev, perestroika and glasnost," said Mar-
tin Wenick, executive director of the Na-
tional Conference on Soviet Jewry.
"His motivations," said Mr. Wenick, "have
been to create a country ruled by law, to
abide by the Helsinki accords and to curry
favor with the West. He knew that Western
governments, especially the United States,
had been a tiger on the issue of Jewish
emigration, and that he could get economic
concessions by allowing more Jews to leave
the USSR." ❑


Oak Park Election
Coverage Unfair

In your last three issues,
you have published articles by
three different reporters, all
in support of the Orthodox
Jewish candidates for City
Council in the City of Oak
Park. One article was prior to
the primary election, and two
came after.
I have always regarded The
Jewish News as a publication
of and for the entire Jewish
population of our area. I, too,
am Jewish and have been ac-
tive over the years in my con-
gregation where my wife's
family membership goes back
over 100 years.
I have never been approach-
ed by any of your writers for
any of my views on any issues
in the City of Oak Park. I
have served the city in one



capacity or another since
1972. I have been on the City
Council since 1985, and we
have always been responsive
to the needs and desires of the
Orthodox community.
I believe your policies need
to be reviewed so that you can
serve the entire Jewish

Raymond M. Abrams
Oak Park

Raymond Abrams
Has Been Slighted

Regarding the article by
Lesley Pearl, Aug. 8, on the
Oak Park election, it would
seem to me, according to Ms.
Pearl, the only people worthy
of an interview, or for that
matter, election, are Brauns-
tein and Seligson. (Is this
because they happen to be Or-
thodox Jews?) What of the

views of Mr. Abrams, the
Wouldn't it have been nice
to discuss the views of this
primary? I believe you would
find a man totally immersed
in the needs of ALL people,
not just a certain minority. (A
minority that Mr. Abrams
also happens to be a part
of?) .

Richard Jasgur
Oak Park

The Race For
The Presidency

In your editorial of Aug. 16,
you show concern that only
one Democratic candidate has
announced for president. I
share your concern but not
your conclusion. You call the
Democratic Party in disarray.
The Democratic Party con-


trols the U.S. House, the
Senate, the majority of gover-
nors, as well as the majority
of state assemblies. As to
potential candidates for presi-
dent, there are currently six
governors and senators con-
sidering making the race. It is
likely that half of those will
in fact enter. Adding in Mr.
Tsongas would result in four
candidates, which is
While President Bush has
to be considered the favorite,
he is not invincible. Given a
strong nominee, the
Democrats could make a race
of it.

Harvey Bronstein

Bar-Bat Mitzvah:
Morning After

There is nothing that ex-
cites me more than a bar or
bat mitzvah ceremony. Its
sights and smells are affec-
ting. The warm, convivial at-
mosphere and cheerful banter
engendered by old friends and
family separated by distance
and circumstance who come
together for the simcha; the
festive flowers, balloons and
band and the spectacular
pagentry of colors that adorn
the day; the smiling joy of the
young boy or girl who, having
ventured on his or her own to
perform in public for the first
time, feels now the trium-

phant afterglow of a job well
done .. .
And, yet, the morning after,
the flowers have withered,
balloons have burst, and the
bar mitzvah boy or bat mitz-
vah girl is gone, not to be seen
or heard from again at the
synagogue for some time to
Some lament this bitter
truth that all synagogues
confront. It has been argued
that the bar or bat mitzvah
rite is no longer apt or ap-
propriate. It sends now the
wrong messages. It is suppos-
ed to symbolize the beginning
of a new, more meaningful
phase of Jewish religious
practice and experience. But,
instead, it conveys that the
child's religious education
has reached a definite limit,
a discernible end.
Along these lines, a notion
of staggering the bar or bat
mitzvah celebration to a later
date in the life of the
celebrant, either at the age of
16 or 18, has gained some cur-
rency, in that it would en-
courage a few more years of
sustained Jewish religious
education. To me, though,
that is not the answer.
Traditionally, the bar or bat
mitzvah ceremony is a rite of
passage, marking a coming of
age, a point of maturity. The
bar mitzvah should not,
therefore, be upended at the
risk of compromising the in-

Continued on Page 12


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